Words Have Power – Even on the Second Try

We’ve been talking an awful lot about WORDS lately on the blog. We looked at a post from a mom who wished she had used her words differently. We’ve agreed to stop using the words “good” and “bad” to define our parenting. Over the last little while, we’ve been taking a look at four words we can use to describe our parenting that research shows helps lead us toward positive outcomes – Effective, Consistent, Active, and Attentive.

With all of the focus on the words we use, it only feels right to bring it all back together by talking about communication. We saw across these different posts how the way we communicate with our children and ourselves impacts our relationships and well-being. That’s the research part of it, right? Research shows us over and over how important our words and communication are in parenting.

A mother crouches to her young daughter and smiles while her daughter holds a teddy bear.

Now it’s time for us to take a look at our reality. I’ll share a little of my reality recently. I had a sick toddler at home with me, AND I had some serious deadlines I needed to meet. I laid my toddler down for nap and was feeling hopeful for all that I could accomplish in those next two hours… except she woke up and was not going back to sleep. (Mom face palm). I was tired, stressed, and I was feeling like I had used up all of my patience and multi-tasking abilities in the morning. So as my sweet kiddo came down the stairs, my words were exasperated and short. We immediately started to spiral downward – with my daughter teary-eyed from being sick and overtired, and I was stressed and out of energy.

ENTER Stop. Breathe. Talk. … I didn’t get my words right on the first try. I spoke from a place of frustration first. After a few minutes of our downward spiral, I realized I was the one tanking the interaction. So I pulled my girl up in my lap, and after I stopped to catch a breath I talked… I told her I was tired too. I talked about how sleeping is important to starting to feel better when you are sick. And I told her I was sorry for not speaking kindly to her.

Research and reality tell us that our words do have power. My words and actions helped transform my interaction with my toddler from one of frustration to one of bonding. But I want to be transparent that it took me awhile to get there. I didn’t get it right on the first try.

I think that’s a really important message for us parents to share with each other as we think about the power of words – it’s about practice, not perfection. There is room for a little grace. There will still be days when you call yourself a “bad parent” without remembering you have other words that can be more helpful, and there will be moments where you don’t get the words right on the first try during a challenging moment with your child.

Challenging Moments are inevitable in parenting. Luckily we can use our words to help navigate them – even if we don’t always get it right on the first try.

Mackenzie Johnson

Parent to a little one with her own quirks. Celebrator of the concept of raising kids “from scratch”. Learner and lover of the parent-child relationship. Translator of research with a dose of reality. Certified Family Life Educator.

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